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October 30, 1981 - Image 18

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1981-10-30

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

THE DETROIT JEWISH NEWS

18 Friday, October 30, 1931

The Final Folly of AWACS

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On Tuesday, the eve of
the Senate vote on AWACS,
the New York Times
printed an editorial entitled
"The Final Folly of
AWACS":
President Reagan is down
to a single argument for
selling the AWACS. Foolish
or not, he contends, the deal
has to be honored to
enhance his influence
abroad. To which the only
reply is that rewarding folly
with political triumph im-
proves neither reputation
abroad nor policy-making
at home.
The folly is bipartisan
and deserves the Senate's
bipartisan rebuff. The dying
Carter Administration
promoted this deal and its
successors eagerly seized
the pretext of "new de-
velopments" to break a
previous Presidential com-
mitment. For Congress sold
the Saudis F-15s — whose
range and power are now to
be enhanced by missiles,
fuel tankers and AWACS —
only because the last
President promised they
would not be thus enhanced.
So much for the new
President's guarantees
about the conditions of sale.
But surely Mr. Reagan
has been chastened, it is
said, and does not have to
lose to learn from a mistake.
The signs are otherwise.
This confrontation re-
sults not from a single
error but from the Ad-
ministration's chronic
failure to establish cohe-
rent foreign policies. It
dramatizes the Reagan
team's excessive reliance
on weapons as a substi-
tute for diplomacy. It
demonstrates a crucial
failure in consulting
Congress and the ab-
sence of sound foreign
policy coordination at
the White House.
If he finally prevails,
would Mr. Reagan shake up
his team and demand bet-
ter? Would he tell the
Saudis they have exacted
Washington's last tribute
until they find a kind word
for Camp David and use
their wealth to encourage
Palestinians to talk to Is-
rael? Hardly. He would
commend the team and join
America's Saudi traders in
celebrating victory over the
"Israeli lobby."
The President's ugliest
argument notwithstanding,
Israel is not the main issue.
At great cost, its security
will somehow be preserved.
What argues powerfully
against the deal is that it
nurtures a fantasy — Saudi
Arabia as a pillar of Ameri-
can strength. If that were
so, the AWACS would not
be such a frantic test of good
will. If that were so, the
Saudis would have com-
promised, to help the
President. If that were so,
the deal wouldn't even be
necessary; the American-
manned AWACS now flying
in Saudi Arabia would be
welcome indefinitely.
Saudi Arabia insists on
its own AWACS for the
same reason it will not
open itself to American
bases: precisely because

it fears the American em-
brace . But the Saudis
also resist America, and
not only because of Is-
rael. They know that the
United States represents
modernism, secularism
and democracy, all of
which challenge the vul-
nerable Saudi status quo.
The Saudis are a commer-
cial asset, not a strategic
partner. They will not re-
place Iran in war games or
Egypt in peace talks. Their
useful opportunism should
never be confused with al-
liance.

President's domain. But
why did Congress vote itself
this power of review if —
even against such obvious
error — it never meant to
use it?

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Most of Mr. Reagan's
supporters in Congress now
concede this. They argue
only against invading the

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